Can Anand Be The Federer Of Chess?
What's more impressive: spending more than 300 weeks as the world number one, or winning five separate world championship titles?
We'll leave it to you to debate who's had a more historic career -- Roger Federer or GM Viswanathan Anand. More intriguing is what Anand said of the man with the wicked one-hander. Quoted on ESPN-India, Anand said you can "roughly compare" being 35 in tennis to being 47 in chess.
In addition to this intriguing thought experiment, this edition of "In Other News" includes a double dose of Kasparov, a president going down on the chessboard, and other chessic miscellany.
Can the five-time world champion climb atop the chess world one more time? Simpler still, can GM Viswanathan Anand win one last supertournament?
You might not think that one of the most decorated grandmasters would need outside motivation, but exactly that came recently in the form of Roger Federer, who many consider the greatest male tennis player of all time. And that was before Federer won his eighth Wimbledon title last week.
Sochi 2014, Game 11. Was this the final battle of Viswanathan Anand's world championship career?
In case you're wondering, no, Federer's convincing fortnight in which he didn't drop a set wasn't record-breaking. In 1972, Ken Rosewall won a Grand Slam event at the age of 37, two years Federer's senior (and Rosewall is now practically rooting for Federer to break his record).
Coming off a few disappointing events recently, Anand lamented that his oblique statements about his play were taken to mean the dreaded "r-word."
"It's almost like some journalists have me on Google Alert for some keywords like 'stop' or 'retire.'"
But the smooth Swiss player with impeccable footwork reminded the Indian that age is just a number.
Roger Federer, playing on grass, his best surface. He's aged so well that it's hard to believe this photo is from Wimbledon, 2009. It could have been taken this year. Photo: Wikipedia.
"People like Federer tell you that you can still hang in there," Anand said. In case you're wondering about this too, the oldest world champion was Wilhelm Steinitz, who lost his title just after clearing the age of 58. That mark could be one of the most unbreakable in the game.
For Anand to have one more chance, first he will have to qualify for the Candidates' Tournament. Since he skipped the Grand Prix series and his rating looks too low, his only other avenues to get there would be to make the finals of the upcoming World Cup or from the lone organizer wild-card.
Remember that teacher you had in school? You know, the one you'll always cite when you give public speeches or who you'll compare against your kid's teachers? The one who stars in your quirky stories and who taught you what you needed to know but challenged you at the same time?
For Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, the head of the online real estate site, those memories were best imprinted by his chess teacher. The late Svetozar Jovanovic, longtime coach of New York City's vaunted Dalton Chess Team (home of Josh Waitzkin), passed away in May after teaching tens of thousands of children and racking up 25 national scholastic championships from 1987-2003.
The CEO of Zillow: There's no "Zestimate" for how influential a chess teacher can be.
Three decades later, Rascoff penned this touching personal tribute to Jovanovic.
GM Garry Kasparov mysteriously has two "R"s. And just as we accept that, we must also now accept that he's everywhere in both chess media and popular culture (and soon to be over the board as well). This edition of "In Other News" includes two more stories involving the chess player/author/politician/human rights activist.
In the first, Kasparov explains to "Sports Illustrated" why people keep asking him at book signings why he's not dead yet (explanation: Vladimir Putin has little to gain by it.) For his part, Kasparov has switched from offense to defense. After becoming one of the faces of the "Other Russia" alliance, he has now avoided setting foot in Russia for several years and he also obtained Croatian citizenship.
"Mr. Kasparov, thanks for not being dead. Since you're alive, can we have a picture?" Garry Kasparov poses for a picture at the Supernationals in May.
If political rhetoric is becoming tiresome for you, perhaps you'll more enjoy Kasparov's latest "machine intelligence" speech. The latest one was produced by the well-known speaker series "TED Talks."
He again continued the softening of his views on the IBM team that created Deep Blue, even going as far as congratulating them. Even if you've heard his thoughts on the subject before, you may appreciate this delivery. Kasparov, standing and without benefit of a lectern, shows more animation in his body and facial expressions, and delivers on some well-timed jokes.
"Nobody remembers that I won the first match," Kasparov said, to great laughter.
Garry Kasparov during his May, 2017 speech at TED2017. Screenshot: Ted.com.
Chess players being proficient at poker is not a novel concept. The co-mingling has been written about several times in this column, and it is likely that a significant portion of the world's best have attempted poker in some fashion. But how much does luck play into each game?
For Austrian IM Ivo Donev, who recently won more than $400,000 USD in a single World Series of Poker event, he attributed the luck factor to comprise about three percent of the game of chess. For poker, he raised the amount of 20-30 percent. Do you agree with his ratio?
IM Ivo Donev, providing some interesting stats for chess and poker players to debate. Photo: Wikipedia.
Interestingly, Donev stated that luck goes up toward the end of the poker games as the blinds force more action. Many chess players would claim the inverse happens in chess -- if any luck exists, it would seem to mostly fall outside of endgames, the most technical phase of the game.
Another (sad) ratio Donev gave: he said he can make as much in one year of playing poker as he could in 20 years of teaching chess, his former profession. What a pity, since he is capable of producing gems like this:
Slovak President Andrej Kiska knows a good photo-op, even if he doesn't know much about chess. "I know I will lose," he said in advance of his game against Lucia Kapičáková (10 years old, rated 1631).
Lucia Kapičáková needed no extra help except possibly an extra chair cushion against Slovak President Andrej Kiska. Photo: Tlačová Agentúra Slovenskej Republiky.
His only goal was to see how long he would last. After 30 minutes, he either checked his poll numbers or the board, and he resigned -- the game, not the presidency.